The Graveyard

The Lair Of Gary James

Posts Tagged ‘thoughts’

Originality

Posted by BigWords on April 15, 2016

There are compelling reasons to seek out an original title for a book – a clear title – rather than slipping into the habit of a clever quotation or a well-used phrase. While many, many more people might search for the more familiar phrase, how many of them are going to find their way to a publication rather than sites explaining the origins of the phrase. A clear title isn’t just something no-one else is using, it should be immediately transparent from looking at the name what genre and tone the book is going to have.

Which all goes against me writing something which has a name dripping with history. Yes the book called Red Cough-cough-cough.

Yes, I suck at taking my own advice. Then again, if I was all that smart I would be living in Maui.

The notion of the Big Six making copycat covers amuses me – people acting like it is a surprise that they don’t have the budget to go and do some amazingly original things. It has prompted me to look at what I hunt for when I go to purchase a book. I’m not sure there is ever going to be a consensus on what counts as original, but I like that such conversations can be mooted.

And then there’s this…

For a song called Originality, there is a distinct lack of it. Does familiarity in the materials being utilized towards a goal lessen the impact, even when then are put together in a new and unusual way? It plays into what I have been considering, and I like the idea that there are only a finite number of ways to present a title to readers – the individual elements coming together each time in a (hopefully) new way.

Everyone knows what Lego is, so it is a perfect analogy for the basic building blocks of cover design. You can switch the colors around, pull out an eight-stud block for two square four-stud blocks, or dare to live dangerously and fill the space with single-stud blocks. The best part of Lego is the lack of rules when it comes to design and structure. Sure, you make sure that there are overlapping elements to keep it from falling apart, but other than that the only limiting factor is imagination.

Of course, there is no such thing as truly original, is there?

No, really. We can go ahead with that as a real question.

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For Entertainment Purposes Only

Posted by BigWords on April 13, 2016

Has anyone else been watching the various programs on the supernatural currently doing the rounds? Have you noticed anything strange in their presentation to a (presumably) intelligent audience? If not, then this is where you start paying attention to the way in which you are led through the problematic area of “shows which we have to apologize for.” It is an annoying subset of programming etiquette, and one which needs an immediate reappraisal.

If you have been watching these shows and are at a loss to pinpoint any unease in the lead-in to these shows, then let me elucidate some of the lingering hesitation inherent in their showing.

Ever since the first ghost-hunting shows appeared, there has been a distinct lack of conviction in putting them in front of an audience. You may have noticed that message flashed up on screen stating that what follows is for entertainment purposes only, but… Why is this required? Do we get this before sitcoms? No. How about game-shows? Uh… Not there. Maybe kung-fu films, because we certainly wouldn’t want people getting kicked in the head because someone saw it done on television? Sorry, nope.

It is a form of discrimination, and one which continues to baffle me in how arbitrarily it is applied. Do we get the message before religious shows? If you know the answer to that question, then you know that there is a problem at the root of the phrase’s use. It’s too easy to take from the application of the statement that what follows such an announcement that there is a disconnect between broadcaster and program. Shows which air sans statement can, therefore, be taken as fact.

There are people reading this who, for whatever reason, aren’t going to care about the tradition. Some might expect it, and others may ignore it, but the fact that such a blatant distancing is still in effect needs at least a little examination. Surprisingly, when I was putting together my thoughts for this, the BBC – of all places – highlighted the problem in an unexpected way. The comment is at the bottom of this page.

I have long believed that mainstream news should have a label “for entertainment purposes only”.

You can’t argue with that.

Okay, so it is a comment on the internet, and we all know how easy it is to rattle off something when faced with a well-rounded, insightful article. But it got me to thinking about what else should be relegated to the status of ‘entertainment’ – why, for instance, don’t we get this before sporting events? Surely, if there is one category of broadcast which practically cries out for such a disclaimer it is the area of sports broadcasting. There’s little to no educational merit in watching horses running around a course.

And soccer. And, for that matter, F1. Really, we should just go whole hog and stick it in front of everything which appears on the idiot box. All of those police shows, the endless, mind-numbing antiques shows (yeah – nothing in those are raising the bar any), and even medical shows if the standards aren’t going to rise above mediocre. I could go on, but you can probably tell by now where this is going…

We need to talk about MTV. Long ago, hard as it may be to remember, they used to show music. Does anyone else remember that? It is in the name – that’s what the M stands for. I know they are doing lots of original programming, but that doesn’t excuse them from abandoning their core reason for existing. Why, I ask you, aren’t they flagging the message up at the end of every advertising break?

Man, this was meant to be a neat little break in the serious.

Okay, video time again. Just remember, these are all for entertainment purposes only…

Heh. Nobody else will be sleeping tonight.

Just sharing the love, people.

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Round-Up, Part 1

Posted by BigWords on April 9, 2016

Just over a week into the scheduled posts, and with two weeks remaining, I want to highlight the things you need to remember going forward. This is all building towards where I am, and what I am doing, no matter how disjointed things seem at the moment. Hopefully the message isn’t getting too muddled.

  1. The antagonism some people seem to crave needs to come to an end.
  2. Some ideas don’t have to be perfect, they just need to be good enough.
  3. Language has power, and there is the ability to do some great things with words.
  4. Creating a new way of doing things isn’t bad. Evolution of habit rather than the destruction of a stable environment.
  5. Being intelligent is no longer enough for people to thrive. More is required.

That’s the skinny. If you missed the earlier posts, and are wondering if you need to read them to understand what’s coming, then don’t worry – nothing is essential to understand the coming material. Unfortunately, that means there’s going to be a lot of interconnected material coming up. I didn’t want to throw everyone in at the deep end, so you can consider what has appeared as being a gentle nudge.

The concept of gently nudging is something else again. I am never going to force anything on people who aren’t interested in creating a larger canvas to play on. Hell, I can’t even play online at the moment  for the fear that I might slip up and say something. Without preparation, and without explanation, there are going to be people who will freak out. I get it. Really, I do.

Whenever there has been suggestions that things aren’t quite right – that a change is required for people to get the best out of what they are doing – there has been a segment which refused to comply. It’s not right to say “you are doing that wrong,” so I’m going to refrain from anything more than gentle nudging. I’ll make requests, but that’s the extent I will be acting while moving forward.

There is another reason for keeping off forums, Twitter, Facebook and the like… I know that some of the things whirling around in my head are, at best, controversial. Some might see a threat, while others will worry that I am putting together something for personal gain – while it is true that I expect to get a lot out of the idea, I hope others get as much from it. Remember that.

So far only thirty or so people are involved. I’ve been reaching out to unexpected places, to people who I know have little fear of any potentially drastic power shifts – and sure, there’s the possibility that some might be less than altruistic in approaching this. I’m writing in enough safeguards that I am almost certain that people aren’t going to be too horrified. I want everyone to be cool with my mad schemes.

Meanwhile, there is this…

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The Path

Posted by BigWords on April 8, 2016

When I was offline (not that I am technically back online) there was a lot of time to contemplate the way things had turned out – choices, decisions, strategies. The constant reminder that so many of my plans had gone sideways was mitigated by a line which I’m still, all this time later, not sure if I came up with. There was a circuit which turned a large circle round the three small villages I took to examining. A long straight road, a rather erratic road, a few paths which led nowhere… Walking and thinking helped concentrate ideas from loose concepts into something usable.

It was during a particularly nasty day – howling winds and sleet rain – I found myself on a different road, walking into the rain, with the knowledge that I was going in slightly the wrong direction. I knew where I ought to be heading, but there wasn’t a way to get back to the correct area. To my left, in the general heading I needed to be moving in, there was trees. Biting back the feeling that venturing off the well-known into the unknown, and aware that I didn’t want to appear in a headline a decade hence reading “unidentified skeletal remains found in woods” I pressed on.

And here’s where the line, the phrase which has been rattling around my skull for the last year, came into play. I was moving carefully, over fallen trees, pushing back branches to move past thick growth, leaping over a small stream that wound lazily past the trees… My footing always one mis-step away from a bad ending, something occurred to me – this was a lesson. Something to be learned from, and something to remember. And it is where the line came from – popping into my head perfectly formed, and feeling like I hadn’t earned it.

Some people walk the well-worn path, while others make their own path.

I looked it up in a couple of quotation books and came up with nothing. Am I smart enough to pull that out of thin air? I still don’t know, and there’s a part of me which is quite happy to run with it as a gift. I don’t need to press my ego by stating that it is mine, because it really isn’t. It’s something larger than me, and I’m not sure I would lay claim to it anyway. It’s something which we should all think – something which should push us. We can do what others have done, the same successes and the same failures. Repeating what others have done isn’t difficult. It is copypasta life to go with the safe options.

The clock ticks on. Old ideas, put together to deal with specific problems which no longer matter, merge with the modern complexities which demand new methods of attack. A suggestion made twenty years ago, a brusque off-the-cuff dismissal of what was then the done thing, came back to me – a way of bringing together a lot of people to do something which mattered. More and more, I find myself wanting to leave a legacy which isn’t about me, or about what I can do. I want to see people take something and go their own way with it, to build and adapt to their own requirements and show the kind of imagination I find remarkable.

And the final note today:

We should blaze our own paths, irrespective of history, tradition, orthodoxy and arbitrary rules. I’m bringing that to what I am doing, taking careful steps to keep in mind the ways others are operating – making choices (sometimes very difficult ones) which are going to separate opinion. That’s cool. I don’t expect everyone to be on board with some of the things that I’m going to be instituting, but there’s no knock-on to the people who aren’t playing along. I’m balancing things so that people aren’t going to be adversely affected.

But that’s skipping ahead. Spoilers.

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Language,Words & Power

Posted by BigWords on April 3, 2016

There’s a long-held notion among varied peoples that words, specifically names, have a certain power – that by naming a thing you can exert power over the object itself. There’s a short story (Vernor Vinge, if memory serves) which has avatars in a Dungeons & Dragons type environment using words as spells, and NewWho has used the notion in “The Shakespeare Code” to rather spectacular effect. It’s interesting that so many cultures, across vast distances and throughout history, have come to the same ideas in amazingly similar descriptions.

Yet there’s something about that notion, the simple act of naming, which bothers me. For the last eight or nine years I have kept a little Latin grammar book near me. It is a reminder of an era in which these books used to be much more useful. I love the soft leather cover, the neat, orderly columns, the dainty, playful typeface which belies the utility of the text. It isn’t a flash book, or a particularly obvious text, but I love it all the same. Likewise, not three feet away sits a German dictionary from (I think) the fifties. Sturdy and utilitarian, it is everything that the Latin book isn’t – intended to be used for its purpose and no more.

I got my hands on an Italian phrasebook a few years ago which had the beautifully simple notion of illustrating words, and it was most likely the act of placing names to things in other languages which kicked off the trail towards a question which I still haven’t found an easy answer to: Is naming something the act of power, or is it the name? See, names are just a collection of sounds (or letters, which are illustrated depictions of sounds) which assist in everyone understanding that which needs to be communicated.

Lets back up a moment – the words you are reading here use the Roman alphabet, which comes to us through the Romans (no surprise there) who got their letters from the Etruscan people, who took inspiration from a flavor of the Greek alphabet, who got their letters from Phonecian texts. The words which the letters form are in English, which has a history that will make your head explode if you attempt to fully understand all of the various ways in which we got from Chaucer to here. Along the way we picked up arbitrary rules, style guidelines and (eventually) deconstructionist tendencies in *ahem* certain quarters.

Which is to say: the words we use, day to day, aren’t ours. Not on a personal level. We share these words, and combine them; we play with words and see how far we can move them until they break. The World Wide Web isn’t a web, the Internet isn’t a net (and isn’t it rather amusing that both webs and nets catch things?), but we accept these words to describe that which has no physical presence. And as we name these things, we take control over them.

While we share certain words with other languages, and accept translations, we are no closer to true names. Unlike those who posit Latin names as being authentic (no, they are the scientific names), and despite attempts by some at tracing the roots of words back to the earliest forms, I am still not convinced that anything we can use now has the power which supposedly comes from the naming convention.

Which raises the question: what kind of a name would inanimate objects call themselves? For that matter, do animals have names they call each other? Is an arbitrary name imposed externally as valid as a name which something innately possesses?

You can probably tell, by these posts, why it isn’t wise for me to be alone with my own thoughts for a prolonged period of time…

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Being “not dead” and all…

Posted by BigWords on April 1, 2016

Man, has the last couple of years sucked. I won’t go into all the detail, because–well, it would depress everyone, and I would have to explain so much that it would make me depressed. Anyway, the time spent thinking wasn’t a complete wash. There’s an announcement that is likely going to make no sense whatsoever set for the end of the month, though my involvement will initially be minimal. Which is, in a roundabout way, the prompt for me busting my ass to get back online, even in a marginal form.

While I was thinking, and there are weeks when all I did was ponder questions, the good graces of Polyhymnia, Calliope and Melpomene shone upon me. So many weird thoughts. The following few posts may skew towards more heavy lifting than would ordinarily appear on this blog, but there are things in the Really Intelligent Notions which aren’t entirely my own.

What do you have to look forward to? Well, there’s a possible answer to a physics question that people have been pondering for years, though I doubt I have all of the pieces to do it justice, there’s some linguistic things that have cropped up, and there’s other… IDK. Stuff. It has all been percolating in my brain, and getting it out here may help others – but if anyone gets a Nobel Prize or anything, I want a name-check. ‘Kay.

For the reasons in the first paragraph, commenting is off.

The following posts are scheduled to run daily, so check back for the thoughts that have kept me (mostly) sane for the past couple of years.

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*Insert Witty Post Title Here

Posted by BigWords on October 19, 2013

I’m not sure what I ought to post here. I don’t want to explain too much of what is going on (it’ll merely bore you to tears), but I am now officially offline. Please don’t stuff my e-mail full of messages – I can’t read whatever missives land there at the moment.

There was a moment where I considered using this post to do a whole lot of kicking against the things that went wrong; to lash out one final, furious salvo while I have the energy. Turns out, in a masterclass of irony, that I don’t have the energy to be angry, and I really can’t face the negativity that such a post would contain. I’m fed up. No – more than that, I am fed up and immensely frustrated, exhausted by the endless could-have-been thoughts, and ready to have a little peace and quiet. Nothing is going right, and it seems pointless to fight against things that are taking their own sweet time.

Crap. I had more to say. My mind is completely blank, and nothing seems to be jumping out as requiring an immediate surplus of profound statements.

Ah – the rise of mediocrity. I knew there was something important. See, with being offline I have the opportunity to speak to the creeping front of middle-of-the-road. It has already swarmed across No Man’s Land, and is fighting on all fronts across the UK. Nothing is safe, and nobody is immune from the lowest common denominator propaganda. Images are being broadcast into every home through the televisions you watch; newspapers, magazines and comics are fighting a losing battle against mediocrity, and film has already fallen in battle. This is it, people. The end is nigh.

The weapons are at your disposal, and I urge you to use them. Bring your A-game, and aim high. Push back the beige masses.

*sigh*

I’m wasting my time, aren’t I? You are going to continue watching insipid game shows, lapping up the canned laughter and enjoying the perma-tanned entities who pretend to have charisma. You are still going to buy the music created by committee, and read words which have no soul. Fuck it. I tried my best.

I’ll be back when I have more energy, and when thinking doesn’t hurt. The stomach ulcer – which has been quiet for a goodly time – has come back with a fury, and my leg hurts. I can’t be clever and engaging when I am constantly thinking about how the hell I can see myself through the night to the next day. It is well past time that I got things sorted out, and first among the things requiring attention is somewhere to live which doesn’t bring as many problems as it does solutions.

As always, I expect the readers of this blog to buck against the trend of “whatever is good enough” and be awesome. This is your mission. Keep being brilliant in my absence.

I will return.

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The Black Terror: Roundup 1

Posted by BigWords on May 24, 2013

So, you may be wondering – if this all fell together so easily, why am I not doing anything with the character? Well, because others are still working with The Black Terror. They may not be using the character to his full potential, and – in all likelihood – there will never be a proper exploitation of all the things that make him so interesting, but that doesn’t matter. I can’t play with the character while there are stories published elsewhere. One of the main elements that makes me excited about a property is being out there on the sidelines of what people are doing, taking characters in new directions and ignoring the (often insipid) popular movements. Maybe there’s room for a comic-book title featuring the character which is less mainstream, but as long as he is appearing elsewhere I won’t be involved in the character.

This example isn’t a particularly unique insight into how I patchwork a grand story together from thin material, and I could have done an equally in-depth piece on The Lady In Red, or even Robin Hood (if anyone is using the character, please get the historic “great forest” feeling in there somewhere), but it shows how a great story can be told about even minor characters. When I have expressed dissatisfaction with the stories which I have been reading, it is mainly because people aren’t being either as bold or as intuitive in their extrapolation of characters as they should be. I want the wild and intelligent elements to come to the forefront, and be played with – I need more intelligent material to pore over than many people are willing to write. It is neither difficult nor time consuming.

There’s a lot of stuff I won’t touch. I dislike the thought of writing something just because it is popular at the moment. I could do a helluva vampire novel, but what’s the point? There’s already too many mediocre attempts at Twilight-lite fiction, and by adding to the considerable number of titles muddying the genre I would merely be committing the same literary necrophilia as those who I am irritated by. Playing follow-the-leader is fine for children, but for authors it is a sign of desperation and lack of strength. Standing clear of the traffic already clogging up genres is the only way for people to grow as writers, and avoiding any confusion is paramount to establishing that most important of credentials – originality. I know people are gonna be headdesking at that word, as there is nothing truly original left, but having a degree of originality in the writing is different to plot.

I scratched the notion of doing something with Black Terror rather quickly, so I never got to the point where I had a page-by-page breakdown, and had I managed to quell the feeling that I was stepping on the work being done with the character elsewhere I would have created a tighter focus on the conspiracy drawing him to The Spider (or his niece, as she will have that name by the 1940s). The problems inherent in bringing any character back from the public domain are that they aren’t controllable – others have the ability to go ahead and use the characters in any way they see fit, and there is no right or wrong in their use. There might be entirely uninteresting uses, but those aren’t “wrong” per se. Just not to my taste.

There’s a lot of characters which I have a passing interest in the future of. Most of them are in the public domain, and freely available for use, though it is a hard sell convincing myself to tackle them when there are others utilizing them. One of the most neglected Golden Age areas is the Egyptian characters. This bleeds into the pulps as well, infusing the magnificent discoveries with a sense of wonder, mystery and horror. The use of Egyptian heroes (Ibis and Kalkor in comics, right through to low-budget films) have always felt as if they were slightly underdeveloped. I’ll go so far as to make note that modern comics don’t have a grasp on just how much there is still to be done. Hawkman, long an Egyptian-tinged hero, never felt as if he was truly connected to anything approaching reality.

For anyone writing characters tied to Egypt of the 40s, reading Montet’s 1958 record of his expedition is pretty much essential background research. And as for the lighter depictions of WWII – really, are people sitting down with a DVD of Saving Private Ryan and claiming to have done the necessary historical research? Yes, I may be overstating just how irritated I am with much of the comics on the market right now, and there are good things appearing, but there seems to be too many light and breezy versions of history which are presented as having some validity when they merely reprise what has gone before. Like anything else, this results in lowered fidelity with each removal from the source material.

Although it should be obvious, I have no intention of writing for DC or Marvel. I know most people would be desperate to get their hands on those characters, but the quality of the writing – overall – has been rather low from what I have read, and I would feel bad if people following the adventures of a character were subjected to one of the intermittent crossovers through anything I did. There hasn’t been a worthwhile one since the original Crisis back in the 80s, with each money-grabbing, poorly plotted mess becoming more and more irrelevant to the mainstream. Mainstream readers don’t care about superheroes, and they care even less for stories built on the continuity snarls of superheroes.

For a while now I have been concentrating on developing and building up material for my own titles, but… Yeah. This hasn’t been a good couple of years. There will be a proper something appearing at some point which will go some way to answering what has been happening with that material, but it is a ways off just yet. And it won’t be the kind of things that you can go get anywhere else.

Having laid all that out, I think I have covered everything I set out to do. Time to leave this via a nice, relaxing piece of music…

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Rounding Up The Regular Research Resources

Posted by BigWords on July 26, 2011

or, How To Find Stuff Without Going Insane

I already have a Resources page, but this addresses a wider need for basic information.

If you have already read through yesterday’s post, you might be forgiven for thinking that research is an ultimately aggravating experience, but if you want to know certain minor details about a specific area – say, for example, train times in Victorian England – you will be pleased to know that the resources for nearly everything have come on in leaps and bounds. It may surprise some, but this is, in part, thanks to a particularly Victorian kind of individual – the hobbyist. Oh, and those timetables? Why, they are right here, if you are desperate to find out the exact times…

Nearly anything which falls under the Common / Everyday Knowledge category – no matter how ephemeral the original content was intended to be – has been preserved by someone. Indeed, as collectors of the everyday have begun to pool resources, the amount of material uploaded to the internet has exponentially increased. It isn’t just public notices and pamphlets which are now available to all; there are more esoteric things you can find out online, and from the strangest of places – Whitstable ‘phone numbers from the 1920s? I have that covered. For all the large, complex databases which have been made available, sometimes it is the small things which really matter.

Current information, which is normally copyrighted by the originator, is a touchier part of research – for every piece of information freely available, to copy, save, share, and disseminate freely, there are a dozen (often vital) pieces of information which are considered as being the property of an individual or (more often than not) an organization. Wherever I have culled some critical note from a primary or secondary source, I tend to make deliberate use of links back to the place I found the information. In print, and as part of a larger work, this might become more problematic, though I consider the relationships built through open cooperation to be of great value.

When it comes to research, we are not just the sum of our work, we are the sum of our connections.

I really wish I didn’t have to point this out, but simply heading for the first available mention of the subject you are researching isn’t going to help you. People seem to have become incredibly lazy when it comes to finding reference works – the main objective in the first four hours of researching a subject is to make a comprehensive list of acknowledged experts in the field, who might be able to shed light on hidden aspects of the material. Simply gathering information at the early stages of a project is likely to frustrate, so by gathering resources quickly you’ll see that the eventual collection of data is much easier and more accurate …which is where I should pimp back-issues of Book And Magazine Collector for it’s reading lists.

Now for music…

To sharpen your skills at uncovering information quickly and accurately, start playing a multi-discipline version of Five Degrees Of Separation. Look beyond the simple task of connecting individuals, and attempt to connect a place (Paris, perhaps) with a book (pick your favorite non-French title here), a song (try Oye Como Va, above) with a car (maybe an Austin Cooper) or some other combination of subjects – once you have this initial connection, try adding other elements. It is by removing obvious conclusions that you can start stretching your ability to uncover obscure and occluded facts.

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Some More Thoughts On Marketing

Posted by BigWords on January 29, 2011

So it is probably time to give meaning and structure to the contents of the last post, having taunted and tormented you with it long enough. The idea was really quite simple, though I never expected such a large bump in stats. Jeez guys, it isn’t that people need to hear the same shit regurgitated a thousand different ways, but in my brief examination of the whole “make money online” nonsense, I have found a bewildering lack of thought and foresight. Of the handful of books I flipped through in preparation for this little thought-experiment, the same dull, tired and unimaginative information is disseminated time and time again. I’ll save you a bunch of money (and a whole lot of time) by distilling the contents of most of these books, blogs and articles into one easy-to-understand sentence –

Put links up everywhere and hope people will click them.

Um… No. Really, no. This is the equivalent of the kid shouting “Hey mom, lookit me. Lookit what I did. I set my head on fire, mom. Lookit me. I’m gonna be famous on YouTube. Aaargh. My head. Aaaaarghhh.” It has the same aura of desperation and unoriginality which flows from the pores of people who let camera crews follow them around as they go about their day to day business, and just because the ploy worked for Ozzie Osbourne does not hold that people want to see other former stars do the same. It’s the fat guy in the cowboy hat, sweating profusely as he hawks used cars, talking faster in the hopes that the heart attack he had before going on air doesn’t fully hit until his paid minutes are up. If the notion that links alone are the solution to everyone’s money problems, then things are much worse than I thought in online marketing.

This approach is so wrong in so many ways that it is difficult to know where to begin. I find it incredible that people are still writing about the way marketing was done in the late nineties, and that people are still buying into this crap is even more worrying. The only thing accomplished by providing countless links to one single page (for there is always a nexus point people are pushed to in traditional marketing) is to give people the opportunity to purchase an item. It’s a one-shot deal. It’s a quick fuck up a side alley, which both parties will think no more of come the morning. And the kicker? People don’t learn anything from this technique.

Before you start complaining that I’m being too dismissive of putting links into every forum post, blog comment and tweet, I’ll lay out some simple facts for you to ruminate over. A sale – specifically a download – does not guarantee that people will bother to read / listen / watch the download. It’s not the only problem you will face if you’re looking at marketing as an attractive money-making opportunity, but it is the big one – if the people who have purchased from a link once don’t follow through by enjoying the download, what is there to bring them back? The old methods of shouting attractions out to a largely disinterested audience have been replaced by infinitely more complex interactions by salesmen and “audience” (for they are such), people advertising wares must change their behavior also.

The role of marketing is NOT to sell things. Selling things is a by-product of advertising, but it is not the primary reason to advertise. The true role of marketing is to change the perception of those who are being advertised to. The main objective is to build a base of customers who will return again and again to buy more things, and this is the reason links are pointless. I can’t state this enough, because the pervasive attitude of the books on the subject are so far from the mark that they give a false impression of human psychology. We aren’t wired up in a way which looking at meaningless links will affect in any meaningful way.

How often have you heard people say they record television shows so that they can skip the adverts?

We remember things by context and narrative, so by engaging in a discussion with people, marketers stand to have a much better impact. The way that such a discussion can be created – to create a relationship with consumers which might last longer than that one solitary purchase – is not in the realms of brain surgery. I’m talking about some really simple and interesting things here. It doesn’t have to be of the scale nor complexity of a massive ARG, and it really doesn’t have to take a year to plan. A little fun and experimentation can go a very long way, and I’ll go one further than that- if the first link on a Google search is the link to the product, I’m gonna buy it, and then forget to check out the rest of the links.

By providing a little difficulty into the process of getting something, and by making me work for the thing I am looking for, I am forced to read about it further, and (hopefully, if you have done your job right) get more enthusiastic about the process of getting my hands on it. This increases my odds of actually reading / listening / watching the damn thing, so it is in people’s best interest to have the point of sale lower in Google rankings than the material which discusses the product. It’s part of that long-term relationship-building which will lead to interest in future material from the same source. There’s no secret to getting people returning time and time again. Oh wait… I haven’t explained the image yet, have I?

A minor confession here – the pic won’t help you. Much like the rest of the information online about marketing, which panders to instant gratification and completely ignores any long-term strategies for the extended shelf life of the product, it is a phantom. It’s Keyser Sozer. The truth of the central phrase (in clear English) is all about the interaction with whoever is looking at it. It sells itself as a path to something, and that is precisely what this post is all about. I’ve been here before, and I still hold that people aren’t trying hard enough to keep people coming back to them time and time again, because serious and prolonged investment in propagating the image of a product (more than “Hey, click the link dude”) is the most important part of any enterprise. Also, by drip-feeding information and making people follow a trail of crumbs to the product, which is a way to have a conversation with purchasers, the mess of links which are clogging up sites will soon dwindle.

This is about being smart, as much as it is about being visible. This visibility, so lauded by mediocre hands, has made many products anathema to me. I have no idea what Covonia (or however it is spelled) is, but because of the prevalence of the adverts, I now have no interest in ever purchasing it. I hate those adverts. Being very visible can HARM you.

“Hey mom, lookit me. Lookit what I did. I set my head on fire, mom.”

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